Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded nearly $300 million to 23 states for enrolling more children in government health insurance programs.

The performance bonuses were established as part of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Reauthorization Act, signed by President Barack Obama in 2009, according to a HHS press release. To receive the payments, states had to meet a specific target for the number of children enrolled in Medicaid. They were also required to improve the process for accessing Medicaid and CHIP, making it easier for eligible children to enroll and keep their benefits.

States receiving bonuses increased their Medicaid enrollment of children from 4 percent to 27 percent, according to HHS, and 16 of the 23 states increased their enrollment by more than 10 percent.

The money is intended to offset the costs for states when they enroll more lower-income children into Medicaid. According to a HHS analysis, the number of children covered by insurance has increased by 1.2 million since CHIP was reauthorized in 2009.

The 23 states that received bonus payments are: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.